WARNING: There will be SPOILERS in this discussion. If you haven't watched the episode yet and plan to, don't read any further.
I repeat: SPOILERS ahead.
You have been warned.
So, for those of you who watched: Holy Crap. I'm still reeling. I'm sure you are too.
I know there will be analysis ad nauseum in all corners of the internet, but I kind of need to unpack the trauma, so here goes.
The last few episodes have been like a Fourth of July fireworks show. There've been some huge explosions, some of which were surprising and appealing, some not so much.
But last night was just like the finale of a fireworks show with all the biggest, most splashy explosions right in your face all at the same time. With fireworks, it's beautiful. On Game of Thrones, it didn't work (especially that last one that left everyone breathless, mouths agape, and gasping...WTF just happened????).
I'll be honest, I haven't read the books. I tried, but I wasn't able to get through all the stuff in between the places where interesting things happened (I'm a voracious reader, so that's saying something). So for me, the HBO show was a great way to experience the story without struggling through the books.
After watching last night's finale, I imagined George Martin sitting on the Iron Throne in front of his computer screen watching Twitter (and the rest of the internet) explode, and, like Joffrey, clapping with glee at what he had wrought.
|Look what I did!|
But what is that, exactly? A seriously pissed off fandom, for one (for those who have read the books, you knew what was coming), but he may have also bled (no pun intended) an awful lot of viewers for another.
I know lots of people threw down their remotes and claimed, "fuck Game of Thrones and HBO. I'm done. I'm never watching that show again."
Some will probably come back, but I wonder how many won't, and here's why:
As an author, I admire George for making his readers fall desperately in love with characters and then having the guts to slaughter them. That takes serious balls. It also increases the tension, because you never know what to expect. Nobody's safe, just like in real life, so that makes it interesting and intriguing. In most books or TV shows, no matter how much danger the main characters face, you know they'll somehow pull through. Game of Thrones throws that playbook out the window.
However, there's a point at which you can go too far. If you kill all the characters readers and viewers love, what's left for them to care about?
Seriously, I only really care enough about one character now to keep watching. I know everyone says "if they kill Tyrion I'm done for sure." I'm in that crowd. He's literally the only one worth watching for any more, and even then, I don't know if it's enough for me to go back.
|Hang in there, Tyrion!|
I'm moderately interested in what happens to Dany, but I don't see her as a very effective leader and she really hasn't done anything worth rooting for. She's just kind of meh to me anymore, and even seeing her surrounded by the army of unknown horsemen in the finale isn't enough for me to be wondering for months about her fate.
I really want to see Sansa grow a backbone already and cut off Ramsey's dick and shove it down his throat, but that probably won't happen, so I won't come back just for that. The fact that Theon finally had an aha moment was too little too late, and seriously, where was the logic in jumping off that wall? Where do they think they're going to go (assuming they survive)? (I also had a problem with the time lapse there - while Ramsay was out fighting that huge battle, which would have taken hours, what was Sansa doing? Scurrying around the castle? Was that not enough time for her to find an escape? It used to be her home, didn't it? Wouldn't she know all the secret tunnels and hidey-holes?)
Arya's story has lost me completely. I used to like her a lot, but the assassin story line is frankly pretty boring.
I like Brienne, but she's not enough, by herself, to make me watch.
The rest of the characters are antagonists, or at best neutral, and I just don't care enough about them to follow the show.
Sometimes viewers hate a character enough to want to see them get their just desserts. I was glad to see Joffrey get what he deserved, and Tywin's death was satisfying. Last night Cersei got some of what she had coming, but now she's back home and in power so she'll probably be worse than ever, especially with a Frankenstein-ish champion out to protect her. If Stannis is dead, he got what he deserved, but unless I see his head separated from his body, or watch it burn in a funeral pyre, I don't believe he's dead (as much as he should be).
So, in my opinion, I think George made a huge storytelling blunder by killing Jon Snow.
|Wait, what just happened?|
Was it realistic given the story and the world? Probably. Was it a smart move as a writer to kill off one of the two remaining characters readers love most? Absolutely not. Even if they've invested as much time as they have in reading the protracted series, they may feel like it's better to just cut their losses and move on.
Given how the show has been known to deviate from the books, the plot point of killing Jon Snow might have been one worth rethinking. Killing Stannis' daughter (which I understand was not in the books), was brutal enough, but viewers are likely left feeling battered and betrayed after the finale (specifically Snow's death), and no TV show is immune to failure, no matter how popular. In fact, the bigger they are, the harder they'll fall.
So, did HBO and Game of Thrones "jump the shark"?
|Are we done now?|
The betrayal of Jon Snow's death will simmer for the months of hiatus, and when the show finally does return, viewers will be left thinking...what is there left for me to care about? Why should I go back for more?
After thinking about it, and letting the emotional trauma dissipate some, I really don't know what's left to draw me back, which is pretty disappointing. For me, Game of Thrones may have reached the end of its run.
What do you think?